By September 19, 2016 Read More →

WV Farm Bureau pushes against government

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel 

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia Farm Bureau members spoke out last week about what they believe are misspending and overreach by the state Department of Agriculture that use taxpayer money to put the government agency in competition with the farmers they are supposed to be helping.

Farm bureau officials pointed to a couple of examples: $34,000 for four donor cows from Oklahoma the agriculture department says will bring “superior genetics” to the Mountain State’s own herds; and the Potato Pilot Program, which, according to one farmer, produced a crop so poor last year it was not worth the cost, but would be in competition with private potato farmers if it was to ever have a good year.

For its part, the Department of Agriculture did not present any argument against the Farm Bureau’s complaints, but simply said it plans to discuss the issues with lawmakers this week. The only concern raised in the department’s response was that it claimed neither members nor the leadership of the Farm Bureau had contacted the department or its commissioner, Walt Helmick, to discuss the matter before speaking out.

Every department in Charleston should be looking right now for ways to save money, not spend it – particularly if spending it goes against the department’s primary mission. In the case of the Department of Agriculture, the mission used to be keeping the food supply safe and acting as an advocate for farmers. Farm Bureau officials appear to believe that should still be the department’s mission.

But buried deep at the bottom of a page on the state Department of Agriculture’s website is this gem: “Over the decades of its existence, the role and responsibilities of the WVDA have expanded to meet the changing face of agriculture.”

To them, that must mean the new face of agriculture in the Mountain State is big government. West Virginia farmers and the bureau that represents them are making it clear, that is not the case.

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